27°3′N - 88°16′E


We are the usual couple - the not so adorable, talkative, argumentative bitter-sweet love birds, like many others so to speak.

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“What kind of a mess is this? How am I supposed to run the house?” She almost yelled.

“Sssh! It’s not as bad as it looks, I was trying to find out something!”

“You better tell me right now what is this about!”

“I was about to give you a surprise. We are nearing five years next year, aren’t we?”, I asked.

“Yes, we are. Why, you thought you missed a count or lost our marriage certificate now? Is it your way of saying that we couldn’t have stood each other for nearly half a decade because obviously you don’t care what it takes to clean up the mess after you?”

“Errr, no I wasn’t, honey…”

“No, no – flattery won’t get you anywhere. If this is your usual dilemma of saying that you can’t buy me a gift because of bla bla bla reasons, then I am tired of it.”

“Hey, no not at all.”

“If this is your way of saying that you have planned something with your reckless, God forsaken friends for another photography trip or something – I might just kill you.”

“Honey, sweetheart, why don’t you calm down and we talk this through!”

“What is there to talk? I already have a bad feeling about it.”

“But you haven’t even heard it???”

“(Grumbled, no words spoken)”

“Shall I say it?”

“okay”

“I was thinking that we could do something different to commemorate 5 years of togetherness – may be we could all go on a trip and spend our anniversary there – and what could possibly be better to than to have our daughter be a part of it.”

“(Waits a little) You know, you are not so much of a jerk all time.”

“(Takes a bow) Thank you, mademoiselle!”

“So, what did you have in mind?”

“See, I’ve decided that I won’t plan this trip. I mean, of course hotel and bookings I’ll manage, but it should be somewhere based entirely on your choice so that you enjoy above anything~”

“Wow! Hard to believe that coming from someone who has planned for a ‘zindegi na milegi dobara’ India chapter on reaching forties with his friends only.”

“Well, I am not denying that I do have a bucket list that includes some of the very far and extreme poles of the country…but..”

“You don’t want this to be one of them?”

“That’s right. I don’t want to take my family on a trip where I’d be busy photographing and you’d feel left out, or it is too much of an exhaustion, that it defies your idea of holiday and most importantly – this isn’t about two of us anymore, we need to make sure that little Rupu enjoys it as well!”

“If that is the case, I’d really really want something different – nice and warm holidays but also up close and personal!”

“Umm, like what? If you want to see the forest, I would be happier than anything; if you want a beach holiday, I’ll do just fine and make sand castle for Rupu to play with. If you want to go the mountains, I am always game – so it’s your pick, really – I mean it.”

“Okay, well, if you want to make it that special then take me back to your childhood. I always keep nudging you to tell me your stories and I can’t tell you just how much it amuses me. I want to know what it must have been when you went to a place as a child and now when you go back after years, how you relate to your memories. I want to be a part of it!”

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“That’s quite a romantic thought- ”

“Ah! But who says we can’t be romantic after thirties and a little one between us?”

“No one does – just that it coming from a aggressive housewife like you beats me!”

“(Laughs!) Now, tell me – what would it be if you were to pick such a place?”

“Umm, it would precisely be 27°3′N - 88°16′E”

“Now, what is that?”

“Co-ordinates for Darjeeling. Ever since I learnt about latitudes and longitudes, I memorized those of Darjeeling.”

“See – these are the kind of memories, I am so keen to know about, though given the current political climate of north Bengal, it is a little too ambitious perhaps, but go on!”

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“Sure, to me the best part of Darjeeling is reaching the city from plains by toy train. You get a number of options to go up the hills to reach Darjeeling – it takes about 3-4 hours in a longer car route which follows a road with a mild slope and there is another road which would take you there sooner but is very steep and it’s not that fun. What I would like most is that a toy train takes you on a very slow, long journey – if I am not wrong, about 8 hours or so – but you get to see the mountain range, the scenery up close, feel the vastness of valleys.”

“Wow, and it still runs among all the political conundrum?”

“Umm, am not sure – but if it is I won’t take any other route. That alone would probably be the most intimate memory of amazement from my childhood.”

“I am so deeply excited, (takes a seat and bites her nails) please go on!”

“Once you arrive there, you’d find a flat top on a mountain – which is the heart of Darjeeling; it’s known as Mal and the restaurants and shops are around that. The hotels are all nearby – it’s not important. I can still recall the deep thrill of looking down the steep slope of the hills between the houses – and it’s such a lush green all along, starting from the fern on the stones to the pine trees, I loved it all.”

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“There must be something naughty, something adventurous you did back then?”

“Oh! Naughty – not sure, but adventurous certainly!”

“Like what?”

“That’d be those horse rides. I can’t remember of a single day when I didn’t go on one. There are so many stables and horses around. They would allow the tourist to ride one on a saddle and then hold it’s harness and take you for a stroll or sometimes, they would be on a horse themselves. It’s so damn scary when the otherwise gentle animal, starts taking his own course but no matter how nervous that would make me, I won’t admit I was scared and go again the next day.”

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“Ha ha! Yes, that sounds like fun for a kid – didn’t the go near the slope?”

“Oh! they very much did at times, and it made my hear sink in fear. Then again it would come back to the middle of the road.”

“Cool! So what are the places to go from Darjeeling?”

“I think to attract the tourists they have made some packaged sight seeing tours now, like there are many like the sunrise at Tiger hill, going down to the lake in Mirikh, to Nepal border, to the Tenzing Norge mountaineering institute, to the monasteries, the tea gardens – but if you ask me Darjeeling is not about going round and round, it’s very blissful and serene. Perhaps more than the words could describe. Walking around any tea garden, would be no less romantic than the pastures of Switzerland – it’s unfortunate that we have not valued the natural wonders of our own country.”

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“I think so – there is so much to see in our own country and we are absolute fools not to promote our tourism to the world, but let’s not get into that – tell me more.”

“Okay…I can still remember the first evening in Darjeeling, we went to a restaurant upon arriving and as soon we got in, it started snowing. That was my first time ever.”

“Wow, and would we be able to see that too?”

“Very likely – you know mostly people go to hill stations in summer, but that’s not quite true – if you go in winter, you can save all the sweating on the way and most importantly, the sky is not clouded – so you get to see a very warm sunshine, and thus all the golden Himalayan peaks that you would otherwise miss among all the mist in summer.”

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“Wow, we are destined to go there at the perfect timing then as it seems. If you were to relate a taste then what would you choose?”

“Ah there would be the tea freshly made from the garden, clearly the best tea in the world and also I won’t miss hot chocolate – both are pure delight.”

“Wow, that sounds so complete! How many times have you been there?”

“It has been a few times, like 3-4 at least and you?”

“I must admit, that I have never been there!”

“Wow, that’s the reason you’ve been asking so many questions. I was thinking – why, but I can’t tell you how much I envy you for that.”

“Envy me for what?”

“For it’s such an amazing thing to be there for the first time – no one can take away that pleasure from you. You are going to see Kanchengjunga for the first time – I can’t imagine how thrilling might that be for the first timers. I was merely a kid when I first saw it.”

“Let’s not think about any other options then!”

“There isn’t one.”

“Okay, move your lazy ass to clean the mess up and go do the bookings.”

“Duh! all that romance just vanished?”

“On the contrary, I want to savour the air of romance you’ve just so effectively flared in me and not lose it cleaning the house. Why do you ask – surely you didn’t expect I’ll clean this mess up?”

“I had a feeble hope that you might.”

“Duh! typically husband”

…and there I went back to cleaning my own mess and Tina went back to attending our baby, who was the most demanding person in the household now, but I was happy that we were going on that perfect family tour after our child was born - sometime soon, very soon.


Photography: Reetam Banerjee 

This entry is created for the “Creating Happy Travellers!” contest on Indiblogger sponsored by Yatra. You can also participate in the contest from the link and win prizes.


2 comments:

Priyanka Nayar said...

Hi Abhra, thank you so much for your encouraging words on my entry.

I really loved your unique take on the contest brief. The dialogue is a great idea! Thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant banter. I really think you're a pretty strong contender. Wish you all the best!

Priyanka Nayar

Abhra Pal said...

Hi Priyanka,

You are welcome. Your words are very encouraging - on this particular post, I didn't get much feedback. So it means a lot. I hope I can win.

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